Many people with irregular heartbeats have surgically implanted defibrillators to monitor and correct their heart rhythms.
Many people with irregular heartbeats have surgically implanted defibrillators to monitor and correct their heart rhythms. But patients with defibrillators also often have other medical conditions that may require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for diagnostic tests, which is not advised for those with defibrillators. Now, University of Missouri Health Care is offering people with defibrillators an MRI-friendly option. MU physician Sandeep Gautam, M.D., implanted central Missouri’s first MRI-friendly defibrillator Oct. 9.
“Patients who need implantable cardioverter defibrillators are often older adults with other serious medical conditions,” said Gautam, a cardiac electrophysiologist. “Until now, the risk that an MRI may cause the defibrillator to malfunction has prohibited use of this diagnostic tool.”
Because implantable cardioverter defibrillators deliver an electrical signal to the heart, the magnetic energy from MRIs can interfere with that signal, preventing the device from correctly monitoring heart rhythm and delivering appropriate therapy.
The new MRI-friendly defibrillator implanted Oct. 9 is safer because of hardware, software and programing changes that prevent malfunction during MRI scanning.
Magnetic resonance imaging is used to diagnose a wide range of conditions such as stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. MRI is also used to diagnose patients who experience chronic muscle, bone and back pain ―Conditions that also are prevalent among older adults. The new MRI-friendly ICD device available at MU Health Care allows MRI scans on any part of the body without interfering with the implantable defibrillator.
“Although there is no way to predict who will need an MRI, we do know that many patients with implantable devices will eventually need diagnostic MRI scanning for a medical condition,” Gautam said. “That is why we are so pleased to be able to provide this state-of-the-art technology to our patients. It allows us as physicians to give our patients the best care possible.”
Gautam joined MU Health in 2015. He earned a medical degree from the University of Maryland and completed residency training at MedStar Harbor Hospital, both in Baltimore. He received fellowship training in cardiology at the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, and fellowship training in cardiac electrophysiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.